Some tips for maintain the rigging of your boat

One of the most important things on a sailboat is the rigging. It’s the system of steel cables that support the mast. The ability to extend its useful life depends on its correct maintenance. In today’s content I will explain the treatment we have given to OLIV’s rigging, which had not been cared for a long time before acquiring the boat.

Although in this article we are going to talk mainly about shrouds, this also affects the bow stay, the backstay, the baby shrouds and any other steel cable that you have supporting the mast. It could also apply to other metal areas of the boat on the deck, such as the candlesticks, the guardrail or even the bimini, among others, but today we are only going to talk about rigging.

Rust converter

The OLIV rigging shows some superficial signs of rust. They don’t affect the structure for now, but we have to stop it as soon as possible. For this, the first of the products that we have used is an oxide converter. What this liquid does is to stop the chemical reaction of the oxidation. This is important, because otherwise the shroud would continue to be “eaten” under the product we put on it.

To avoid dirtying the boat, it is advisable to place a cloth underneath when applying it. In this way, the excess product falls on the cloth and not on the cover. This is better than cleaning rust from the gelcoat, which can be tricky.


The next thing we put on is a “3 in 1” type lubricant, which helps to remove the existing rust and, above all, creates a protective film on the parts that can be damaged. Oil repels water, so it helps prevent salt water from re-corroding that area so easily in the future, displacing moisture.

This second product is important, because the oxide transformer only acts on the oxide that is present at that moment. In rigging maintenance we are interested in what is going to happen in the future. Salt water greatly facilitates the oxidation of all types of metals, so all precautions are little.


Finally, a trick I learned from the time I was sailing with the skipper of the Phoenix, Vaseline !. Petroleum jelly is an easy-to-find paste that is generally used as a lubricant. In our case, we are interested in its “pasty” texture to protect the area of the shroud that joins the root, which generally forms a slit where the steel cable breaks in most cases.

We use a “toothpaste” type format for easier application, but it’s available in other formats on the market. It’s common to buy it also in round cans, and proceed to apply it with your finger.


Correct maintenance of the rigging is extremely important, as it prevents it from breaking, which can cause great damage and loss to the boat. Therefore, in this article we have shown you three actions you can take to take care of it: apply a rust converter, apply a 3-in-1 lubricant, and cover the most sensitive parts with vaseline.

If you want to continue learning about rigging, we recommend the book “The Complete Rigger’s Apprentice: Tools and Techniques for Modern and Traditional Rigging” by Brion Toss, which will allow you to master this topic to perfection.

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